Local church works with City of Charlotte to build sustainable housing units in uptown

Church donates land to build affordable housing units

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A new development is in the works with plans that would bring affordable housing to the heart of uptown Charlotte.

Little Rock AME Zion Church – along with the City of Charlotte – have donated land to a project expected to add 105 total units to a new housing complex to be located at 7th and Alexander Streets.

The new development would sit right behind Little Rock AME Zion. Reverend Dr. Dwayne Walker says the land was sitting there and he increasingly saw it as a way to help an ongoing problem.

“[Families] have children, some of them may be seniors, some of them may be new young adults trying to get on their feet with their families,” said Dr. Walker. “So, we want to be able to serve their needs.”

Laurel Street and the Little Rock Community Development Corporation also announced the partnership to create the community centered on being “sustainable and inclusive”.

Of the 105 units which be a mix of 1-3 bedroom apartments, 55 will be rented at market rate, while the remaining 50 would be income-restricted. Developers also say the community will put an emphasis on quality while also reducing parking and encouraging transit and also housing a diverse range of income level, age and family size.

Local church works with City of Charlotte to build sustainable housing units in Uptown
Local church works with City of Charlotte to build sustainable housing units in Uptown (Source: Sharonne Hayes)

Dr. Walker says it’s no secret Charlotte has continued to evolve as a thriving metropolis. It’s something he’s seen since taking over AME Zion back in 2005, but he says the area has rapidly evolved in the past few years.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen this whole community change,” said Dr. Walker. “There were ma-and-pop stores across the street but now there are high rise apartment buildings...And here we are right on the middle.”

According to Rent Cafe, the average monthly rent for an apartment in Charlotte is $1,259 dollars - up six-percent from last year.

But with the growth comes growing pains as families find it increasingly hard to afford housing in the heart of the city.

Dr. Walker says he hopes joint ventures like this one will help families get on their feet and give them a chance to live where many of them already work.

“This is an opportunity to end that cycle and to give people hope that they can overcome their present realities,” said Dr. Walker. “And that we can be serious about it as a church, as a city and developer...that we’re all coming together hand in hand to address an issue.”

Currently, the land houses two historical shotgun houses, a major part of history in Charlotte’s African-American community.

The Harvey B Gantt Center is working with the church to preserve them and move them safely to another unknown location that highlights historical artifacts.

Construction on the new development is set to begin in early 2021. The doors are expected to be open to new residents in 2022.

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